Australia Tightens Online Gambling Laws

Online Poker Banned Down Under

New Aussie codes require operators to be licensed by local authorities.

The Australian federal government has passed new gambling laws, following up on a review that was presented in November last year.

The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016, proposed by the Minister for Human Services, Alan Tudge, effectively bans online poker in the country, and also closes loopholes used until now by offshore sports betting groups.

Analysts stay that the new legislation is likely to cause a mass exodus of international gambling providers, especially those who are licensed in other gambling jurisdictions.

Under the new laws, all online gambling activity that is not specifically authorized within the new codes, is banned. The only authorized activity will be sportsbetting, although this field has also been effected. The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill does away with any form of in-play sports betting - an activity that was essentially banned under previous legislation but was still available to Aussies thanks to a number of loopholes used by offshore providers.

Gambling Operators to Leave Market

In the months leading up to the new legislation, a number of online casinos left the Australian market, while others stated their intention to do so if the law passed.

Since the amendments announced yesterday by the Australian Senate, more gambling operators have said that they will leaving the Australian gambling industry.

Up until now, operators have adopted a wait-and-see strategy, but with the new legislation now a fact, they will not want to risk their reputations by operating in an "illegal" market, and will have to leave.

The bad news is that with good offshore sites, most of them licensed and regulated, now leaving the market, the vacuum could be filled by rogue sites. The Australian consumer could possibly be negatively affected - the exact opposite of what the federal government attempted to achieve by passing the law.

Opponents Fail in Efforts

Up until the last day, there was heavy lobbying against the new bill, especially by Liberal Democratic Party representative, Senator David Leyonhjelm. The lawmaker attempted to create a carve out for online poker and blackjack, arguing that they are games of skill and not games of luck. However, he wasn't successful in his efforts.

Leyonhjelm called the new legislation "stupid", saying that "the whole world is online now."

The Australian Online Poker Alliance also took up the players' cause, backed by some of the country's most famous poker players.